A rare fungal infection is making its way across one state and officials are concerned by the increase in affected dogs. The fungal infection can affect both humans and animals, is found in soil, but especially in wooded moist areas and near waterways. People and pets get sick from the infection by breathing in the spores.
Blastomycosis has affected 61 people and 182 animals so far in 2019, and a large amount is in Minnesota. According to Joni Scheftel, state public health veterinarian at Minnesota’s Department of Health, the average amount per year is 35 humans and 65 animals.
Scheftel isn’t certain why the number of diagnosed cases has gone up, but she suspects wet weather and flooding. She shared, “What happens with fungal organisms is they can proliferate in wet, under wet circumstances. And then when it dries out, they can get into the air and people can breathe them in.”
Although horses and cats can be affected, it mostly infects dogs. Treatment for blastomycosis in dogs can last months or even longer.
Scheftel says it is not transferred from animals to people or vice versa, people should be aware if they were at the same location where the dog may have acquired it, as they too can get infected from the spores.
She also shared, “This is unfortunately the tricky thing. There’s no real way to prevent this disease. The best we can do is to recognize it early and get it treated appropriately.”
More about blastomycosis and prevention can be seen in the video below.